Alzheimer’s occurs when certain receptors that monitor the brain’s nutritional, supportive, and protective needs trigger amyloid precursor proteins (APPs) to be cut by molecular scissors called proteases. APP can be cleaved into either four or two different fragments. APP that divides into two fragments supports brain connections (memory), but APP that divides into four peptides has been shown to induce loss of brain connections (loss of memory). The APOE-4 allele is associated with an increase in the APP division into the quartet of toxic fragments.
In addition, the APOE-4 allele affects many other processes, such as those that help regulate cardiovascular disease and the immune system. Therefore, the presence of APOE-4 is also related to an elevated risk of developing cardiovascular disease and inflammatory disorders.
By testing for APOE-4, your doctor can get the most important genetic information on your risk for Alzheimer’s disease. By starting an optimal program of prevention, you can take proactive steps in maintaining good health, thus lessening your chances of developing Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disorders.
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